Public Health Sciences
Public Health Sciences
*K. L. Braun, MPH, DrPH (Chair)—social and behavioral health sciences
G. Baruffi, MD, MPH—social and behavioral health sciences
Cooperating Graduate Faculty
C. A. Albright, PhD—social and behavioral health sciences
Affiliate Graduate Faculty
M. Greenwood, PhD—Indigenous health
Degrees and Certificates: BA in public health, MPH, MS in public health, DrPH, PhD in epidemiology.
The Academic Program
The mission of the Office of Public Health Sciences is to advance the health of the people of Hawai‘i, the nation, and the Asia-Pacific region through knowledge, discovery, innovation engagement, inclusion, and leadership.
The department offers the bachelor of arts (BA) degree in public health; the master of public health (MPH) with specializations in epidemiology, social and behavioral health sciences, Native Hawaiian and Indigenous health, and health policy and management; the master of science (MS) degree with specialization in epidemiology; the doctor of public health (DrPH) degree with specializations in community-based and translational research; and the doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree in epidemiology.
Advising for undergraduate students enrolled or interested in the BA in public health is available through the undergraduate academic advisor; (808) 956-5753; email@example.com; website: manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/degrees/undergraduate/advising.
Information, applications, and initial advising regarding all other degree programs in public health are available from the Office of Public Health Student Academic Services, Biomedical Science D-204, 1960 East-West Road, Honolulu, HI 96822; phone (808) 956-8267; email: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/.
The bachelor of arts (BA) degree in public health is designed to educate undergraduates interested in public health and/or health profession training in the broad basic concepts of public health education, practice, and research. The primary focus of public health is to improve health and quality of life through population-based prevention and treatment of disease and other physical and mental health conditions, through surveillance of cases and the promotion of healthy behaviors.
Undergraduate students applying to UH Manoa may declare public health as their major upon entry. Requirements for admission are described in the “Undergraduate Education” section of the Catalog.
For current UH Manoa undergraduate students seeking a concurrent degree in public health, the requirements for admission include the completion of PH 201 Introduction to Public Health with a B- or better, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25, meeting with the undergraduate academic advisor, and an approved Concurrent Undergraduate Degree Application.
Current UH Manoa undergraduate students who wish to change their major to public health must first complete PH 201 Introduction to Public Health with a B- or better and meet with the undergraduate academic advisor before filing a Major Declaration Form.
A total of 36 major credits (45 credits with public health-related courses) are required to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in public health. All students are encouraged to work closely with the undergraduate advising staff in the Office of Public Health Studies in planning their course work.
Public Health Related Courses (9 credits)
Public Health Required Core Courses (24 credits)
Public Health Elective Courses (12 credits)
Visit our website at manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/courses for a current list of public health courses. Since public health is by nature interdisciplinary, students will be encouraged to take electives in areas outside of the department. The list of recommended electives offered in other departments to complete the 12 credits of advisor-approved upper division public health electives is available on our website at manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/degrees/undergraduate/undergraduate-degree-requirements.
Students seeking additional information and advising on our bachelor’s degree program should contact the undergraduate academic advisor at email@example.com.
MPH students follow a Plan B (non-thesis) program. MS students follow a Plan A (thesis) degree program.
*Most students will exceed the 32-credit hour minimum to meet their educational objectives.
Areas of Specializations
Epidemiology is the study of the distributions and determinants of health-related events in human populations. A basic tenet of epidemiology is that diseases are not randomly distributed in the population. Determining the prevalence and risk factors associated with these events, as well as measuring the magnitude of such occurrences, is the basis of public health action. An essential part of this determination involves the utilization of epidemiologic and biostatistical methods to evaluate the effectiveness of disease control measures.
The master’s program generally requires two years of combined study and field work but may vary depending on academic background, experience, and academic goals of the student. The curriculum provides both breadth and depth. It instills knowledge and skills in epidemiologic methods, biostatistics, the collection and analysis of epidemiologic data, and the epidemiology of chronic and infectious diseases. Each student will have an academic advisor and committee with whom the student will work closely in scheduling and completing the academic requirements of the program.
Students are required to take advanced level training in chronic and infectious disease epidemiology, advanced biostatistics, and research design. There is opportunity for students to choose from epidemiology electives in the following areas: infectious diseases, nutrition, genetics, environment, aging, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. Course work in specialized statistical applications is also available. Students participate in on-going epidemiological research programs throughout the UH Manoa System or community during their fieldwork assignment or thesis research.
The curriculum includes a core of required basic and public health offerings that cover such topics as environmental health, health care delivery and organization, health education, and health behavior. The courses provide background and breadth in public health. A capstone paper and presentation during the final term integrates the MPH experience. The MS degree follows a similar but more research-oriented curriculum and requires the completion of a thesis.
Health Policy and Management
Health policy and management (HPM) is a multidisciplinary field of inquiry and practice concerned with the delivery, quality, and costs of health care for populations. HPM professionals concern themselves with managerial and policy aspects of the structure, process and outcomes of health services including improving the safety and efficiency of health care, expanding health insurance coverage, eliminating disparities, reducing out-of-pocket costs, financing, organization, accessibility of care, maintaining high quality of services and improving the performance of health systems.
The HPM specialization prepares students for a professional career in health services, policy and management through the provision of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and practical experience. Students are taught to contribute to advancing the health of populations by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of personal and health services in public and private health organizations. The development of critical thinking and applied problem-solving skills with a focus on public health challenges and under-served populations is promoted.
Within the HPM specialization, students select their electives and practicum with a view to focusing more on policy or management. Practical experiences beyond the coursework are a key component of public health education and HPM’s strong ties to leading public health policymakers and organizations provide students with ample opportunities to apply themselves to actual health policy and management challenges in the U.S. and abroad.
The two-year curriculum includes core public health course work and the following advanced courses: 1) PH 626 Health Economics; 2) PH 641 Advanced Topics in Health Policy; 3) PH 648 Program Planning, Management, Evaluation and Leadership; 4) PH 672 Leading and Managing Health Programs; and 5) PH 677 Managing Global Health Service Delivery. MPH students are also required to complete a fieldwork practicum and a capstone presentation on a topic relating to health policy and management.
Native Hawaiian and Indigenous Health
The Native Hawaiian and Indigenous health (NHIH) specialization is designed to provide students with skills and training necessary to serve Indigenous people and assist in addressing their health and wellness needs. Indigenous people throughout the world experience grave health and socioeconomic disparities. Many of the current inequities are the result of historical national and local policies designed to eliminate and/or assimilate Indigenous people. Knowledge of history, policy, health determinants, and ethics is essential to address and eliminate the inequities faced by Indigenous people.
The NHIH specialization will prepare students for leadership roles in Indigenous health policy and culturally safe health services. Graduates will better meet the social and cultural needs of Indigenous people, thereby enhancing the quality and effectiveness of those health services and policies. The improved quality and effectiveness of Indigenous health services contributes to the reduction of Indigenous health disparities and the improvement of Indigenous peoples’ health.
Students enrolled in this specialization are required to take advanced level training in Indigenous health policy, ethics, and research design. There is opportunity for students to choose from Native Hawaiian and Indigenous health electives in many areas across the campus. Students will participate in on-going research programs with Indigenous communities through a practicum assignment.
For MPH students specializing in NHIH, the following course work is required: 1) Indigenous Seminar; 2) Health Ethics, Law, and Politics; 3) Advanced Native Hawaiian Health Determinants; 4) Indigenous Applied Research Methods; 5) Community Engaged Research and Practice; 6) Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems, Environment & Health; and 7) Integrative Seminar. MPH students are also required to complete a fieldwork practicum. During their final semester, students prepare a report on their practicum experience, complete a research-intensive final paper, and deliver a public presentation as a demonstration of mastery of program competencies.
Social and Behavioral Health Sciences
Over the last century, chronic diseases have replaced infectious diseases as the leading causes of death and, despite advances in medicine and technology, health disparities are increasing in almost every country. Unhealthy lifestyle behaviors such as tobacco use, lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, unsafe sexual practices, substance abuse, and overexposure to the sun are major contributors to disability and death. Social factors, such as discrimination, poverty, dangerous living and work environments, and unequal distribution of resources (including health care resources), also affect health status. In the social and behavioral health sciences specialization, students will examine: a) behavioral and social theories in health promotion; b) behavioral, social, environmental, and political interventions that can promote health; and c) skills required for assessing health problems and for planning and evaluating health programs. Course assignments provide students the opportunity to apply knowledge, to practice skills, to enhance computer literacy, and to improve oral and written communications. Opportunities to participate in university-based and community-based research and service programs are provided.
MPH students specializing in social and behavioral health sciences gain knowledge and skills in public health research methods, biostatistics, theories of health behavior change, needs assessment, planning, and evaluation. The first semester focuses on public health core requirements. In subsequent semesters, students take required and elective course work to meet the social and behavioral health sciences competencies, as well as the student’s professional goals. A required 240-hour field practicum allows students to apply knowledge and skills in a community public health setting. During the final semester, students complete an integrative seminar, prepare a capstone paper, and deliver a public presentation as a demonstration of mastery of program competencies, integration of classroom knowledge, and field experience. A student-selected faculty advisor and program committee guides the student’s course of study, practicum experience, and capstone.
MPH and MS Requirements
Applicants will be expected to have the academic background, experience, interests, and commitment for professional training in public health. Applicants must also have computer skills in word processing, spreadsheet construction, and internet applications. Academic preparation for the epidemiology specialization should include one year of course work in a biological science, chemistry, and at least one semester of calculus. For the HPM specialization, preference may be given to students with training in social science, health, economics, business, or human services. Prior paid or voluntary work experience in the health care or human services fields is preferred, but not required. Academic preparation for the NHIH specialization includes course work in mathematics or statistics, public policy or political sciences, and psychology or sociology. Work or research experience in an applied health/social sciences field which serves an Indigenous population is preferred. Academic preparation for the SBHS specialization includes prior course work in mathematics or statistics, biology, or human development, and sociology or psychology. Experience in an applied health/social sciences field or in health/social sciences research is preferred.
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
The DrPH program with a specialization in community-based and translational research will prepare students to lead programs and conduct independent investigations addressing public health topics relevant to culturally diverse groups, with a special focus on those in the state of Hawai‘i and the Asia-Pacific region. Translational research is the investigation of how to successfully transform scientific discoveries arising from laboratory, clinical, or population studies into community applications to reduce disease incidence, morbidity, and mortality. Community-based participatory research in health is a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves investigators and members of the community in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. This approach increases the likelihood that interventions will be embraced by the community and that the community members will gain knowledge, skills, and other benefits from the research.
All DrPH students will complete required and elective course work in health disparities, evidence-based public health, policy, leadership, cultural competence, community-based participatory research, and qualitative and quantitative research methods. They also complete a qualifying exam, mentored teaching and research practica, a comprehensive exam, and a three-paper dissertation. DrPH students are expected to publish their work in peer-reviewed journals and present at national and international forums.
A few teaching and research assistantships are available for degree candidates. Qualified students may also apply for East-West Center fellowships. Contact Dr. Kathryn L. Braun (Chair) for additional details at firstname.lastname@example.org
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The PhD in epidemiology is comprised of graduate faculty from the Department of Public Health Sciences; University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center; Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology, and Pharmacology; Department of Microbiology; and the Pacific Biosciences Research Center. Candidates who successfully complete this program will be able to teach in academic and other settings, conduct independent and collaborative epidemiologic research, and provide consultative services to academic, not-for-profit, governmental, and private organizations.
Although applicants to this program are not required to have a master's degree in epidemiology or a closely related field, all applicants are expected to have a strong background in the natural and/or social sciences. Because we look for applicants who are committed to epidemiologic research and practice, past research and related work experience are important factors in selecting candidates. We encourage applications from candidates who have well-focused research interests and career goals. The Graduate Record Examination (General Test) and three letters of recommendation are required for application. Applicants must also include a written statement with the application indicating why they want to pursue a doctoral degree in epidemiology and why they want to pursue this degree here at UH Manoa.
A prospective applicant is expected to communicate with one of our graduate faculty members in his or her area of interest or with the program’s chair and to be accepted as an applicant by a faculty member prior to admission. The faculty member involved will serve as an interim advisor upon the individual’s admission into the PhD program. A listing of the PhD in epidemiology faculty is available at manoa.hawaii.edu/publichealth/faculty-and-staff. All candidates take a qualifying examination upon completion of all required courses in epidemiology and biostatistics and core courses in infectious diseases and chronic disease epidemiology (usually after their first year of enrollment). This is followed by elective courses in the candidate’s area(s) of interest, a teaching practicum, an oral comprehensive examination, and dissertation research. Candidates should refer to the Catalog for procedural and substantive details.
A few teaching and research assistantships are available for degree candidates. Qualified students may also apply for East-West Center fellowships. Contact Dr. Eric Hurwitz (Chair), at email@example.com for additional details.
Honors and Awards
Joseph E. Alicata Award in Public Health
Please note: This Catalog was prepared to provide information and does not constitute a contract. The University reserves the right to change or delete, supplement or otherwise amend at any time and without prior notice the information, requirements and policies contained in this Catalog.
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